Horizon:Volume 7C Chapter 58

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Chapter 58: Dodger in the Night Sky[edit]

Horizon7C 0165.jpg

Merely falling

As much as possible

Is the resolution and the method

Point Allocation (Simple)


Two crafts clashed.

Metal loudly collided and circled through the sky.

Wings created a roar and the roar created instantaneous momentum.

Integrity flew in a powerful arc.

“What do you gain if you win here, Musashi!?”

Suzaku swung its body around and flew in to strike with its left elbow.

“Don’t ask me!” shouted Naomasa. “We’ll leave you all to do whatever it is you want! That’s all there is to it!”

Their weapons were targeting each other’s heads, so they collided at the midpoint. Naomasa’s hair blew wildly and Integrity shouted back at her.

“That is the arrogant pride of the powerful!”

“Of course it is!”

Neither one moved back this time. Their colliding weapons kept their wing-accelerated clash even.

“We accepted pride last night. So,” she said. “If Musashi conquers the world, the world will have pride!”


Mar-Ga: “By that logic, the entire world will eventually have lust too.”

Me: “I think Horizon and I joked about that before.”

Mar-Ga: “Oh, you were awake?”

Smoking Girl: “Get to sleep! Why are you even still up!?”

Mar-Ga: “Oh, do you want to see my roughs that badly? I’ll compress them a little and send them over, so decompress the files if you want to see some interspecies love between the Sanada big bro and the two Celestial Dragons.”

Me: “I’m impressed you can do that when the Celestial Dragon battles ended in such a nice way.”

Smoking Girl: “So why are you still up, Toori?”

Me: “I’m curious about the Kantou Liberation, so I’m listening to the battle commentary while gathering some ingredients.”

Righteousness: “Don’t use us as background noise!”


The idiot was the same as always, but those people listening in meant more pressure to do these battles right.

And our situations will be reversed once the Battle of Nördlingen starts.

So Naomasa made her move. Their weapons were still locked, so…

“Here goes!”

She fired homing shots from her hips while within arm’s reach of the enemy.

Naomasa launched an attack while at close enough range for the homing to be meaningless.

If they hit, the blast would damage herself as well, but…

I can’t overcome the gap in skill and specs otherwise!

Suzaku could fight back since it was a general-use machine, but there were areas where the enemy had a clear advantage. Her attacks were only keeping up with the enemy’s due to the homing. Since her bullets flew in an arc, the enemy had to fly on the inside of those curves which allowed her to move in closer and fight back.

For the enemy, close range was both a safe zone and combat airspace.

So Naomasa used that against her. The enemy would not expect her to fire from close enough range to blow herself up.

“So…”

Hit her, she thought just before she sensed something.

It was wind.

It did not blow in from the front. She felt like the air was moving out in front of her during this high-speed battle.

The wind led toward the enemy’s large machete.

That’s not good!

This was a sword cannon blast from dead ahead.


When she realized the enemy had had the same idea as her, Tokishige clenched her teeth while combined with the god of war.

Of course, the god of war did not have teeth. The program that artificially recreated her feelings simply gave her the sensation she would expect.

But, she thought.

What is she thinking!?

Was this enemy prepared to go down with her? No, that could not be it. The enemy had to have some way of dodging it.

And that too was the same as Tokishige. She would be damaged if she was caught in the blast from her sword cannon hitting the enemy, but she had only made this move because she had thought up a way to dodge it. And…

“…!”

Tokishige saw the enemy’s evasive action just as she made her own.

The enemy accelerated.

She flapped her wings for a rapid change of course.

But Tokishige was confused: Hadn’t the vermilion god of war already used its flight devices to eliminate the recoil upon firing those homing shots?

Those flight devices were designed to provide a single heavy blast of flight, so it should not have been possible to use them twice in quick succession without a chance for air intake in between. Besides, the autonomously-controlled wings would have had their movement restricted in this close-range battle so as not to damage them.

No!

Tokishige saw something.

The vermilion god of war’s arms were raised overhead as if flipping its hair back.

“Did you force up the wings with your arms!?”


Naomasa knew that method was pushing things to the limit.

The automatic controls refused to use the flight devices in quick succession because time was needed to compress air inside the wings and to build up the propulsion spell.

But there was still something in there, so she used it. She manually operated the wings.

This is the entire reason manual controls exist!

She used her arms to force up the wings and that movement took in some air, insufficient though it was.

“Fly!”

The buildup of acceleration was larger on the right, so Suzaku was launched to the left and out of the way of Integrity’s sword pressure.

“I’m through!!”

She had dodged it.


She made it past.

But Naomasa did not have time to celebrate her escape. Because…

Where is she!?

Integrity had disappeared. Her own homing shots had not hit, but it had changed course to the left or right.

That meant it had slipped between the homing shots. Those had been fired from Suzaku’s hips, so Naomasa was impressed the enemy had made it between them.

She used her sword pressure, realized Naomasa. She used that blast from her sword to shift the homing shots to either side.

Of course, the enemy’s cleverness meant danger for Naomasa. After all, Integrity had been flying so they would pass by each other. In that case…

“Behind me!?”

Naomasa’s weak acceleration meant she slowed down faster. She managed to turn around fast enough, so she had Jizuri Suzaku make a midair turn.

Five sword pressure blasts entered her field of vision.

Integrity was not there. Where is she? she wondered as those blade impacts moved in.

Damn!

Her wings had yet to build up the power needed for acceleration. She could use the manual controls to make them flap, but that would not be enough to dodge this wall of sword pressure.

So she used that insufficient flight to essentially make a short jump.

She dove between the second and third of the five sword pressure blasts.

She made it through, which was when she saw it.

“That’s…”

Integrity. The purple god of war was there. And…

“Behind the sword pressure!?”


I screwed this one up!

Naomasa knew she had been careless with that decision.

Yoshiyasu had warned her and Integrity had dodged the previous homing shots in the same way. Flying forward then meant Integrity had pursued the sword pressure and that had to be the secret to her attacks.

She hides behind the wall of sword pressure, charges in, and strikes the enemy as they slip through the gap.

This enemy could pull off such a dense series of attacks.

Integrity had been behind the third sword pressure blast this time. That meant to Naomasa’s right.

But she did not hold back. She spread her wings toward Naomasa, and…

“Ohhh!”

She used the greatest acceleration she had demonstrated so far.


Tokishige could see that the enemy was not giving up.

The vermilion god of war used a cross guard and then pointed the tip of its midsized wrench her way.

Having something to hold out like that briefly made the distance between them hard to read by instinct alone.

Tokishige decide to attack low. An attack for the head could be dodged by leaning forward.

But a low attack would hit the body, so that was what she did as she passed by.

It hit.

The metallic sound resembled an eggshell breaking.

Her large machete split the thin metal armor and scattered lubricant and parts. However…

Wait!

The wrong parts were destroyed and scattered. These were from…

“The left leg!?”


Integrity’s vision calmly confirmed that its blade had sliced into the enemy, but the slash had hit…

A straight kick!?

The cross guard and the raised wrench had been diversions meant to draw her eye.

The enemy had predicted the high speed would keep Tokishige’s eyes off what mattered while she made the slash.

The enemy had thrown a high-speed left kick into the machete.

No matter how thin the armor was, slicing vertically up a leg was difficult.

The blade had made it up to the knee, but the enemy had bent the leg there. The blade had caught in the joint and had trouble continuing from there.

“Kh!”

The recoil from the speed hit Tokishige in the wrist and shoulder, so she made up her mind. She grabbed the machete in both hands, and…

I have to keep going!

If she let off, the recoil would only hit her even stronger. She needed to throw her entire body into it.

“Ohhhhh!”

She did it. She sliced the entire leg in two and then she went for the enemy’s left side as if to tangle themselves together.

“Hit her!”

Hit she did, but she did not hit the opponent’s body.

Sparks flew as something blocked the thick machete.

It was a midsized wrench.

The vermilion god of war held the wrench to the side with both hands and slid the machete’s blade along it. And…

“Caught you.”

The enemy changed course and flew to tackle Tokishige with her shoulder.

When the enemy caught up with her like this, Tokishige could not believe what was happening. Hadn’t the vermilion god of war used up all of its acceleration power?

But this was different.

She saw something behind the vermilion god of war.

A swamp.

Tokishige knew that the Suzaku was one of the Four Sacred Beasts gods of war. And when it had been in a dangerous spot while fighting the Byakko, it had activated itself to match the enemy’s OS. So…

“This proves that your god of war’s flight devices belong to Suzaku.”

“Impossible!”

Tokishige swung the machete outwards. She raised it and flew left to put some distance between them.

“This was made in a Satomi workshop!”

“Your Chancellor told me that Satomi flight devices were based on Suzaku’s flight devices in the design phase.”

In other words…

“What you have there contains more Suzaku tech than anything. So…”

So…

“I will defeat you and take it!”


Even as Naomasa shouted those words, she was aware the acceleration swamp behind her was slowly fading away.

It really did only activate in response to her output.

There was still a lot she did not understand about Jizuri Suzaku, but all of those things could be explained away by saying it was still incomplete.

The most prominent example was why the Four Sacred Beasts OS would not activate most of the time. But once again…

The OS will probably become aware of itself when it takes those wings and regains its original form.

That may have been wishful thinking, but it was all she had to rely on right now.

If, she thought. If I can activate Jizuri Suzaku as one of the Four Sacred Beasts and it regains all of its original functions, will I get my sister back?

She could only hope. She might be mistaken or wrong, but that was all she had.

And if she was going to hope for that…

“I will be taking that!”

The swamp disappeared from behind her and her acceleration was reduced, but she had caught Integrity in both arms.

Integrity swung its right arm. It made a compact rightward stab with its machete.

Naomasa responded by swinging her prosthetic right arm. Suzaku’s left arm moved along with it.

“Are you any good at martial arts!?”

Naomasa would teach her. She was a self-defense instructor. Self-defense was a method of resisting an armed opponent.

Naomasa snapped her opponent’s right wrist with Suzaku’s clenched left hand.

It was a light attack, but it was a vertical strike during the horizontal rotation of swinging that large machete.

Integrity’s wrist joint broke as if it had burst.

Then the two crafts collided.

Integrity could not use its right arm. Its wrist had lost all strength and the machete was abandoned in midair.

That created an opening.

Naomasa had Suzaku charge at Integrity’s open left side from below and clutch at the enemy’s side with Suzaku’s left shoulder.

Once she had caught the enemy, she had Suzaku hold them in a horizontal throwing pose and then force them straight down.

“My acceleration has built up.”

She raised her wings and accelerated.

She rocketed straight down toward the ground 200m below.


Down they went.

Naomasa chose the rocky ridge at the center of Bousou for a landing point. Slamming the enemy against the forest or the dirt might not be enough to destroy them.

She could not fight another battle after losing her left leg. The enemy could not use her right arm and had lost her weapon, but Suzaku had almost no mobility left. She had to end this here.

But the enemy moved.

“Damn you!”

Integrity tried to break free of her grip. Its left arm grabbed Suzaku’s radiator hair and forcibly pulled its head back. And…

The flight devices!

Integrity was trying to flap those wings to alter their positions in the air.

But Naomasa did not hold back.

She was right up against her opponent, but she still fired the weapons on her hips.

She fired two shots.

“Kh!”

Integrity reacted to the two blasts from nearly point-blank range. Tokishige instantly purged the hip armor.

She got through!?

The bullets passed by Integrity’s torso on either side, but those had been homing shots.

The two shots flew toward the surface, made a rapid curve, and dove between the trees of the forest.

One of them hit a conifer tree trunk and exploded, but the other flew back up into the air and toward Integrity’s back as a counterattack.

Naomasa saw Integrity’s decision in that moment.

It purged the right flight device wing on its back.

“You’ve got guts!”

With one of the giant wings missing, Integrity’s balance destabilized.

And the enemy took a certain action then.

Tokishige grabbed at Suzaku’s trembling arm and side so Integrity could take control.

With control of their fall swapped out, Integrity flapped its remaining wing.

The blast of air from just the left wing further destabilized its balance.

“Now I am in control again!”

Naomasa realized Suzaku had been rotated halfway around along with Integrity.

Suzaku’s back was aimed down toward the ground as the homing bullet flew up toward them.

If that hit, it was all over.


Tokishige did not let up with Integrity.

Even if the enemy was hit here, they would both slam straight into the ground.

This was not even an issue of who would remain standing in the end. She was prepared to let the battle be decided by who was in control at the end.

She did not hold back, so she grabbed the vermilion god of war’s hair to tighten her grip with her left arm.

But that was when she realized the enemy had stuck her right arm below Integrity’s left arm.

It looked like that was to prevent her from getting a perfect grip, but…

What is this?

Integrity’s vision picked up on something.

It was that midsized wrench. The vermilion god of war held it in its right hand, and…

“Wait.”

The wrench’s opening had latched onto her left side between the torso and the base of the shoulder joint. The wrench had a perfect grip on the vertical rotation structure within.

And that was not all. The enemy swung the wrench for just a moment.

She rotated it 90 degrees down to rotate the shoulder joint fastener.

That was when Tokishige realized what the enemy was trying to do here.

“Are you trying to destroy and remove Integrity’s shoulder joint!?”

The enemy was structurally destroying the shoulder.

This was not a forcible purge of the joint. When the base was damaged and could not be physically removed in the proper way, the shoulder had to be dismantled from the outside just like this.

With a human body, this would be like moving the bones beyond their intended range of motion to dislocate them.

Of course, god of war joints were designed so they could not be spontaneously “dislocated”. A Satomi god of war’s shoulder joint had a rotational movement range of 540 degrees. And if the arm was rotated like normal, the base axis would rotate to reset it after about 270 degrees, but…

The enemy is holding it in place.

The base axis could not move. Since she was holding the enemy down from above, moving the rotational component back would move the joint outside of its acceptable range.

Had Yoshiyasu taught her this? No, anyone who worked on gods of war would probably know about this.

Tokishige resisted within the split second she had. She had all of the joints auto-adjust.

She used an attack preparation routine in an attempt to return the shoulder fastener’s angle to zero.

But the enemy would not allow it. Her surviving right leg kicked at the wrench.

“…!”

It rotated 360 degrees all at once and the enemy grabbed the wrench in her right hand again.

“Damn you!”

When the enemy kicked the wrench again, Tokishige heard a voice. It came from Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer riding on the vermilion god of war’s shoulder.

“This is my day job, you see.”

In that moment, the left shoulder was freed from its exterior with a dull noise.

The joint dislocated, air could be heard escaping, and the transmission tubes tore. The arm was removed from the body and the many cables that tried to hold it there ultimately snapped.

“Gwahh!”

The tearing of the nerve transmission caused much more pain than the destruction of the joint.

Tokishige’s artificial senses said her left arm was losing all its heat. And it was accompanied by an odd emptiness at her left shoulder.

Dammit!

Just as she cursed to herself, the vermilion god of war shoved the left shoulder back into place.

“Wa-…”

She tried to say “wait”, but could not complete the word.

They did not have time to flip themselves around again.

The vermilion god of war swung the left shoulder and left arm around to slam Integrity downwards.

“…!”

After being tossed in something like a vertical hammer throw, the rising homing shot crashed into her left side.

Immediately after the explosion, Tokishige realized she had crashed into the ground.

She had lost.


“Impressive. Not only does the 6th Special Duty Officer manage to remain fairly normal, but she does a good job too.”

Ookubo looked up into the sky – a very low part of the sky – to see an explosion and a collision with the ground.

That was the battle between Musashi’s 6th Special Duty Officer on Jizuri Suzaku and Integrity of the Satomi Eight Dogs.

The result was seen on the southern end of the ridge in central Bousou.

Integrity lay collapsed and curled up on its side and Jizuri Suzaku stood with just one leg.

“Oh.”

Jizuri Suzaku sat down on the ridge and raised its right arm.

That is unexpected.

Ookubo knew it was rude, but she had not thought the 6th Special Duty Officer was quite so considerate. Of course, she may have only done it on a whim this time, but if she was being considerate of the entire battle as a whole…

“I really don’t get these upperclassmen.”

“Milady,” said Kanou.

“What is it, Kanou-kun?” Ookubo tilted her head. “We have made another step of progress here.”

“Yes, we have, but something else is happening too.”

“Something else? What, is something happening elsewhere?”

“Judge.” Kanou nodded and spoke with the booming artillery in the background. “The Musashi is about to pass by the Azuchi.”